We all get there, sooner or later
We all get there, sooner or later.
We start our business, we make photos, we get clients.
We make more photos. We get more clients.
Then we need to market, raise our prices, find new products.
We offer prints. We up our service.
We do more photos. We struggle to edit it all.
We drop the ball. We work late nights. We wonder why we ever started.
We read articles on work/life balance and sigh (deeply).
We think if only we were better organized. We look at others and wonder how they do it. While others look at us and think we’re blazing it. Duh.
Problem is — I might as well break the news to you right now — there’s no way out.
We are finite human beings working hard to grow our business. And as our business grows, it will require more work, more elbow grease, more man-hours. And we will run out of those because we can’t stretch to infinity and beyond, no matter how much coffee.
So what is one to do?
Enter the SWAT team (seriously?). Yes, Special Weapons and Tactics — which are essential elements for the smooth running of a business.
If Weapons are actions and Tactics are strategies, it’s safe to say that unless you have such a team in place, you can’t consistently grow your business without risking some serious breakdowns, the loss of all your hair, and a face that looks 10 years older than your horrible passport photograph. And who would want to look at that, first thing in the morning!
How do you get such a team? Read on, it’s exciting.
Sit down and take inventory of everything that you do
First off, you need to sit down and take inventory of everything that you do.
Shooting, culling, editing, designing albums, making invoices, talking to clients, checking accounts, drafting contracts and emails and PDFs with helpful hints for toddler sessions, sending off orders and opening those god-awful super-taped bubble-wrapped giant boxes that come by courier at the most impossible times, re-packing with frilly bows and cute thank you notes before delivery…oh and have you posted all that on Instagram?
You can keep adding tasks here yourself or we’ll be taking up the whole article with our to-do list. You get the picture.
Then you go through the list and ask yourself: “Which bits do I NOT like to do? What am I NOT so good at?”
And then the next crucial question…
WHAT can I delegate?
Notice the emphasis on the WHAT, not the CAN.
We don’t think we can. But we can. We think it would take too long to find the right person to take care of our accounting, editing or social media management. We think we don’t have time to train them once we find them. And that’s, of course, true — if we’re hardly managing to keep those plates spinning as it is, how do we find the time to get someone else on board?
And more crucially, where do we find the money?
The biggest and most useful advice I ever learned from my coaches as I grew my own business, is what I’m about to say to you now…
Start before you’re ready
Sounds crazy, but it’s true. And since there’s no other way to grow and get sh*t done you might as well come to grips with it and accept it.
Set aside half an hour a day to actively search for the right editor, the badass virtual assistant, the killer accountant. Find them, test them and work their cost into your running costs. Add a bit to every session, cover that base. Give them time to learn exactly how you want things done. Above all, hire people who are better than you at doing what they do. Someone who just loves editing, accounting, writing copy for posts or texting your clients.
You don’t have to hire them full time, they can be based anywhere in the world and work by the hour, or on each project. Virtual assistants are fantastic assets, and editors can whizz those Lightroom catalogs back to you in a matter of days. What’s not to love?
Start now, even if you don’t think you’re ready.
If you don’t, a year from now you’ll have even less hair and look even worse, and worst of all your business will not have grown much.
If you do, you’ll free your own time to breathe, get creative and do awesome work that you actually enjoy, day in and day out. And you’ll feel great.
And look great — a lot better than your passport photo.
Now, wouldn’t that be nice?